Hello, armed citizens! Today I’d like to start a short series of free guides on how to use your social shotgun! Comments, critiques and requests are especially welcome.
(7 big pics behind cut)
Charging the magazine tube.
This technique is simple, easy to do without looking or in the dark (with some practice) and most importantly, allows the user to properly orient the shell before stuffing it into the magazine. Putting a shell in backwards can generate a very interesting and challenging to clear jam!
Step 1: Acquire a shotshell in your left, or support hand.
Shell orientation at this point isn’t critical, as you can correct it in the next step.
Step 2: Using the thumb, manipulate the shell in your hand until the base (metallic end) is supported by your pinky, and the crimp is supported by your index finger:
Step 3: Bring your thumb down to the base of the shell in preparation to make your thumb do the shoving work. Also at this time, use your index finger to locate the front curve of the trigger guard.
Step 4: Primarily using the thumb, push the shell along the trigger guard and depress the shell lifter. Keep pushing the round directly into the magazine tube with one smooth pressure. It is a good idea to rotate your hand slightly to push your thumb in to the first joint to make sure the shell is past the shell stops. The rim may get caught between the stop and the lifter, jamming up the works.
Remember: smooth forceful push! Repeat until full.
Also remember that I snapped these pics with the shotgun upside down for clarity. I like to perform reloading chores with the shotgun held by the strong hand, with the butt pad resting on the hip, oriented so that the ejection port is pointing down, more or less at eye level. This keeps the unfolding action and the shotgun in your view.
Unloading the shotgun using the slide or bolt to cycle rounds through the action is both tough on the shell rims when done repeatedly, and needlessly dangerous. Also, pressing the shell lifter to the up position before the next round exits the magazine tube is difficult to time on an 870 and can result in mashed thumbs!
This is a better way.
Step 1: Roll the shotgun over so that you’re looking at the loading port.
Step 2: Using your index finger, press the shell lifter down, and press the shell stop in. You will feel a soft ‘click’ when you get it right. The shell will come down a hair, but is held in place by the lifter.
Step 3: Using your thumb, lift the rim of the shell slightly to clear the lifter and the magazine spring will pop it out of the tube. Since the lifter is pressing down on the rim, the round won’t come speeding out and crush your thumb.
Repeat until the tube is empty. Double check the chamber, and your gun is clear!
Yes, I used a live round in this demonstration, because a) I left my dummies at home, b) I was only conducting administrative work and nothing got chambered. I do recommend that if you want to practice vigorous manipulations at home, you get some dummies. They’re less expensive than a bruised ego and a hole in the floor!